China accepts Beijing Winter Olympics could bring COVID cases

Further, China on Wednesday in sweeping restrictions, locked down the entire 13 million residents of Xi'an city after the COVID-19 cluster was found in the area.

Beijing: China on Thursday admitted that Beijing Winter Olympics that is to be organized in 2022 could lead to an increase in COVID-19 cases.

The Deputy Director of Epidemic Prevention and Control Office of Beijing Winter Olympic Organizing Committee, Huang Chun, said “COVID-19 cases or small clusters of infections” as “a large number of overseas personnel will gather, causing a very high risk of transmission,” an official said at the State Council’s press conference, reported CNN.

Huang said the Committee and Chinese people were “very concerned” about the possible impact of potential COVID-19 cases inside the Olympic bubble on China’s wider society.

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“Our line of defence will prevent infections from spreading to the city, and we should hold this line especially regarding the highly contagious Omicron,” Huang said.

Han Zirong, Vice President and General Secretary of Beijing Winter Olympic Organizing Committee, added that COVID-19 cases had been found among athletes before boarding and at airport customs upon entry for test events since October, reported CNN.

Han said those infected were put into quarantine and their close contacts were allowed to train and compete under strict protection — some of whom even won gold medals.

Meanwhile, Huang said that China is fully prepared for possible COVID-19 infections inside the Games bubble and coronavirus infected staff and athletes will not be able to compete or work, and will be sent to a designated hospital or isolation facility depending on whether the patient has symptoms or not.

As for asymptomatic patients, Huang said they will be tested every 24 hours in the isolation facility and released if they present negative results twice within 24 hours, reported CNN.

This includes one negative test within six hours of competition when they will be able to return to the Olympics “with some restrictions.”

Huang added the Organizing Committee also introduced policies regarding close contacts of positive cases.

Affected athletes will have to lodge and eat separately from other participants, commute between their residence and stadium in special vehicles, take COVID-19 tests twice daily, and will be able to compete “under some conditions” if their tests come back negative.

However, the organizing committee’s admissions and guidelines on the virus follow the National Hockey League’s (NHL) announcement that it’s players would be opting out of the Games, reported CNN.

The NHL announced on Wednesday that it will withdraw because of the “regular-season schedule having been materially disrupted as a result of increasing COVID cases and a rising number of postponed games.”

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